Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Australian author denied bail for the fourth time

* photo copyright*

Royal Guard on parade. November 23rd, 2008.

I see red when Thailand's draconian lese majeste laws are used.

The monarchy is going to be a key point in the looming political crisis and shameless lese majesty laws will likely flourish.

And as a demonstration of how scared the Thai press is, both the Nation and the Bangkok Post have failed to take up the story on Harry Nicolaides.

While Thailand's international reputation has been dragged through the gutter by the violent antics of PAD and a questionable legal system, holding a prisoner over a freedom of speech issue is further suggestion that although Thailand is not a failed state, it is a state that is failing.

From Freedom Against Censorship Thailand:

FACT comments: We think it important to point out that Harry was held without charge for 82 days. He was denied bail three times on no charges! The Thai reasons for not granting Harry bail is precisely because other foreigners have fled, though none on criminal charges of lese majeste come to mind. Were Harry to flee, it would present a dangerous precedent for other foreigners to follow.

And from Reporters Without Borders:

Reporters Without Borders repeated its call for the release of Australian author Harry Nicolaides, facing a charge of the crime of lese-majesty, after he was yesterday refused bail by the Bangkok criminal court for the fourth time.

Nicolaides, aged 41, who was formally charged on 21 November 2008, has been held at the capital’s remand prison since 31 August. The charge relates to his book, Verisimilitude, which came out in 2005 in which he referred to the way an unamed Crown Prince treated one of his mistresses. Only 50 copies were ever printed. “We urge the Australian authorities to do everything within their power to secure the repatriation of Harry Nicolaides as quickly as possible”, the worldwide press freedom organization said.

“He is being held in very harsh conditions and his morale is at a very low ebb.” His lawyer made a previous request for bail on medical grounds on 22 November. It was rejected on the basis that there was a risk that Nicolaides could flee if he was set free. His brother, Forde Nicolaides, described the outcome as “regrettable”. “Harry is suffering from the difficult conditions at the prison and the terrible effects this is having on his welfare. [...] Ensuring his ability to cope and remain strong is now critical.”

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